Watching a Solar-Powered Marble Machine Will Clear Your Addled Brain

For those who ditched their click-and-clacking Newton's Cradle decades ago, this Solar Marble Machine just might be the modern ball-based meditation tool of your DIY dreams. What does it "do"? Not much! But that's precisely the point.


I mean, technically it has a very simple repetitive function: Solarbotics crafted the gear-and-spiral combo to operate in time with a smart circuit that stores energy collected from a mini solar cell. Every few seconds (or minutes, if you're in a windowless cube) the wheel turns a teensy bit, releasing a marble down the twisty slide to the bottom, where it's eventually carried up to the top again. If you're in a really dark spot—like Milton in the basement keeping company with a sad red Swingline—you can make the whole thing make its rounds manually.

The kit comes with all the parts you need—motors, diodes, transistors, and capacitors—but you will have to track down a soldering iron to put them together.


Desktop stress-relievers and mental distractions might seem a little outdated—a goofy toy buy from Spencer's or Brookstone at the mall—and mobile offices make outfitting a physical workspace a bit of a dying breed, but I dig this modified, automated Mouse Trap gadget, and would gladly while away a bitty chunk of time watching these little thangs roll (it's never not mesmerizing). Buy one here for $33. [Maker Shed; Solarbotics]

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I'll be interested in this when they create modular versions that can connect together so that when the marble gets to the top, it can take different paths down. It doesn't have to be sequential, but it would be more interesting if the paths were random due to balance of gravity and momentum.